The Dalai Lama breezed through our town recently, making speeches that awed the citizenry as usual. For none seem to question his insight and authority.
His holiness, the teacher, the guru, is both spiritual leader and head of state for his exile Tibetan government. Elsewhere derided as a dangerous combination, this blend of church and state is readily accepted for Tibet as it is not for, say, Iran.
Does the DL get a free pass because we use eastern terms for him rather than the words we usually apply to a government leader?
Let’s call him what he is, the “dictator of a theocracy.” And not a very hard working one. In 1959, after his political failures with the Chinese, he ran out of town. In essence, he announced to his people, “There’s going to be some trouble. So the smoothed-handed class must go. But you stay behind and use your calloused hands to work the land and send us money so we can keep these great outfits and live the easy life in a mountain retreat.”
During the 1990s, partially in response to criticism of this autocratic arrangement, a set of voting reforms were announced. They sound lovely. However, it’s easy to be perfect democrats when you don’t actually have a government that does anything. Politics is less pure when you actually have to apportion power. Still, the DL himself has never received a vote in his life.
He claims to be the government is exile but he accomplishes nothing for his “people.” Non-violent resistance has proven an effective political technique the world over, from India to Burma to the US. The DL, however, has managed half a century of failure. Why doesn’t someone ask him about that in the Q&A after one of his lovely ethereal speeches? Everybody’s having too much fun being ga-ga in the presence of what all consider a “great” man.
Underneath the lovely saffron robes the emperor has no clothes.
The one I’d like to see is The Power of Language and the Language of
Power: English Proficiency Test as a Gateway of Opportunities.
It comes on the second day of the conference Language and Power: Perspectives, Issues and Impact.
The conference is already done at the Convention Center of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Take a look at the link to see the nooks and crevices of the subject.
You thought you were in control of the words bouncing around your head. The author of a recent international survey of languages disagrees with you.
Speakers of a language with future markers are more likely to be successful than people who use language that make a strong distinction between today and some undefined “future.” Language seems to lead to behavior.
Here’s the key point: “Similar analyses showed that speaking a language that does not have obligatory future markers, such as Mandarin, makes people accumulate more retirement assets, smoke less, exercise more, and generally be healthier in older age. Countries’ national savings rates are also affected by language. Having a larger proportion of people speaking languages that does not have obligatory future markers makes national savings rates higher.”
That conclusion comes from a Scientific American article about a study by Keith Chen of Yale Business School.
People who speak such languages as English, Korean, or Russian, which identify the future, are less prepared for the future. Speakers of languages such as Mandarin that do not make a strong distinction between present and future are more ready for the future.
The magazine article sets the study into the contest of modern research into the connection between language and behavior. Interesting. See the article:
As is so typical of the argument, UK magazine editor and blogger Tom Jamison begin his attack on free speech by saying he supports “a free press” and “all forms of written expression.”
Then he reveals his main point: “I also, however, believe in restraint and punishment of those who abuse their right to free speech by printing defamatory, vilifying, unfounded or libelous material.”
Free except when he doesn’t like it so the speaker should be restrained and punished.
He asks rhetorically “would it really be a better world if we could all just say what we want (or even repeat aloud or in print that which we really think) without a second thought or concern over legal (and social) consequences?”
Yes, it would.
He makes a couple good points. As editor of Able Magazine, a disability lifestyle publication, he maintains,
Just imagine if you were identified by the phrase: ‘Tom is an epileptic’. At the very least, consideration for the person’s feelings should have you correct that to: ‘Tom has epilepsy’. Nevertheless, imagine for a moment if we were all identified and therefore judged, by our supposed weaknesses. Imagine being introduced with the line: ‘Tom is a non-swimmer’ or ‘Tom cannot spell’.
This is a title of a recent book addressing the humor idiom both most condemned and most practiced.
While enjoyable, as with all long essays on small topics, the importance is a bit overblown. Writer John Pollack is to be admired for strenuous research trough the ages. This guy told a pun, this guy and this guy. This famous guy didn’t like puns. This guy told a pun.
He does extract meaning worth considering especially in the chapter “Labs and Retrievers: How the Brain Fetches Meaning from Sound.”
There’s lots of interesting puns.
Pollster Frank Luntz helped invigorate his political party, he says, because he realized words are not fixed points on a map. They exist on shifting ground. A phrase that once carried a punch may grow toxic or just fall limp.
"The phraseology determines the context. And the context determines success or failure," Luntz says, as reported in a well done story on NPR, http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/02/26/172882077/loaded-words-how-language-shapes-the-gun-debate
The story focuses more on “gun control” or something like that. It might be “public safety” or “reform.”
Hard for me to say so you’ll have to decide how to manipulate yourself.
"To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change. What used to be thought of as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward, any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant one was totally unfitted for action; frenzied violence came to be considered an attribute of a real man."
--Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Book 3
Thucydides was a general in the war fought between Athens and Sparta from 431 to 404 BC.
The way out of our gun mess lies not in restricting our Rights but in understanding them and applying them properly. The issue we are all debating expands way beyond guns because a threat to one Right is a threat to all.
If you are an American, you currently have the Right to walk around with a firearm. The Constitution’s 2nd Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms” may be awkwardly phrased, giving opponents hope for gun control. But we remain dangerously awash with guns not because that’s what the 2nd Amendment’s seeks to achieve but because gun proponents successfully argue for the broadest possible interpretation of its language. There is no need to once again roll out the litany of deadly shootings this flawed interpretation has given us. . You know the facts.
Sentiments of most Americans lie clearly on the side of gun control. But our past efforts at gun control have not worked and probably never will.
I share these sentiments but I love freedom more than I hate guns. A threat to the 2nd Amendment is a knife to the heart of all of our basic freedoms. The 1st amendment has its opponents too. Even in our current debate, many people want to prevent publication of the name of the killers. Law makers are actually preparing legislation to restrict video games and other forms of free speech.
Instead of trying to restrict the right to own a gun, a mission with a miserable history of failure, let’s do just as the 2nd amendment says and arm state militias. Well regulated. Today, “militia” goes by the name “first responders.”
America was at the beginning and remains now a nation of first responders. On 9/11, when we actually were attacked, the sterling exemplar of defense of freedom came not from the US Military, which accomplished an expensive nothing, but from the regular average Americans on United Flight 93 who banded together to take down that hijacked airliner. They immediately transformed into a militia to save your life. Recently, in the Oregon shooting, a shopper certified as an armed professional security guard drew his legal concealed gun on the shooter yet wisely decided not to fire into a crowded hallway. His response nonetheless seemed to have slowed the killer.
Today we are infested a bunch of loose nuts, members of a fantasy militia, with assault rifles at the ready to protect City Hall from the imminent landing of North Korean troops. That’s not rational and it’s not what the Constitution intended. In the most recent mass shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, the killers used guns legally owned and operated until the moment they just reached over and picked them up.
A local community or an entire state joining in creating a plan of protection is what the Constitution intends and it’s still the approach favored by the vast majority of Americans. Let these people -- volunteers -- form the first line of protection. Not against an invading army but against the real threats: armed killers certainly, but also storms, fires and whatever each community decides its own militia should address.
Allow each state to monitor and control hunting equipment, clearly not necessary for a militia. It’s reasonable to think that the role of hunting is different in Montana than in New York. Outside the well regulated militia, make public safety the top priority in gun legislation. People not trained and regulated in the militia will not have the same ability to own firearms, for instance, no assault rifles.
For a while after mass shootings, the talk turns to mental illness reform. From 25 years of experience, I tell you the mental health industry will work harder than the NRA to prevent meaningful improvement. The poorly paid people in this field are so incompetent they can no longer even define the illnesses they are supposed to treat. For some years even serving on the board of mental health a center, I’ve stood by my brother for his entire journey through this system to the point, while under probation from an assault charge and clearly in the throes of mania, he passed a background check and purchased a handgun he used to fire into his neighbor’s bedroom. It’s a coincidence no one was hurt. I never want that to happen again.
The President has appointed a committee to study gun control so we know Washington, D.C. will once again fail to solve a national problem. Let’s not wait. Let’s each state begin to work today on its militia and remove the weapon pointed at our head right now.
A popular new movie reminds us of a major principle of dishonest public discourse.
Zero Dark Thirty brings us back to the Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” used to extract information (or at least words) from suspected enemies. The term for this practice previously was “torture.”
People who use the newer term are trying to say, “When we do it, it’s OK. When they do it, it’s a crime.”
No. We (in America) hold these rights to be INALIENABLE: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That means the rights belong to every single person on the planet and cannot be removed (alienated) from any individual.
“Enhanced interrogation” is a lie.
The principle is this: “When someone begins to re-name something using more syllables, they are hiding something.”
Torture is torture no matter who does it or why. Americans don’t do it even under a different name.
It’s not a particularly new idea that it is easy to say something to a child that causes pain now and into the future. But one mother offers an interesting personal account of how she responds. Most parents do OK, says Janice White.
“However, I think as parents we underestimate the impact of what we say and how we say it. It is possible to intend to communicate a specific message but in reality communicate something different,” she writes.
She remembers actually losing friends because she corrected them so often on language. She did not like people calling her daughter “big,” for example. The word implies not cute and pretty, she says. She prefers “you are nice and tall.”
Read her entire account: